The first encounter between a US president and a North Korean leader is on the agenda. After Donald Trump unexpectedly accepted Kim Jong-un's invitation the White House is now insisting that certain specific promises be fulfilled before a meeting take place. Torn between fascination and concern, commentators aren't quite sure what to make of this rapprochement.
Anything possible, from détente to disaster
The meeting entails risks but given the situation it's the best alternative, La Stampa is convinced:
“The summit could bring peace to the Korean Peninsula but it could also end without results, or in disaster. In any case the outcome is unpredictable. Fate - i.e. succession on the one hand and an election on the other - has left it up to Kim and Trump to find a solution to the most dangerous crisis of the 21st century (so far). The decision to meet suits both of them and flatters their egos. That's good news because the alternative - armed conflict, possibly with nuclear weapons - could have suited the two protagonists' personalities just as well.”
Crazy plus crazy equals sane?
The willingness to talk is progress, Libération comments:
“In arithmetic, negative times negative equals positive. In the same way crazy plus crazy could well equal sane, and a negotiation between two nutcases could result in a reasonable compromise. So the two most outlandish crackpots on the planet have decided to meet up. ... Who can complain? The competition over who had the biggest nuclear button which the two engaged in was reminiscent of schoolboy bragging and stoked fears that things could get catastrophically out of hand. Now words have replaced insults: that's progress. ... The strange thing about mental illness is that two lunatics can see eye to eye.”
No way out of the impasse
For the state news agency RIA Novosti the White House has the weaker hand:
“It's in the interest of the US administration that the meeting should take place. First of all because for Trump negotiations are the only dignified way out of the North Korean impasse. He can't bomb the country and nor can he ignore the 'North Korean threat' (in view of his own threats and the new North Korean long-range missiles). In the White House Kim's offer is being used as proof of the success of a non-existent North Korea strategy. ... Smart people (above all in South Korea) are doing all they can not to destroy the Americans' illusion. The main thing is that the child enjoys himself without destroying anything - with bombs.”
Boundless ego not a good basis for diplomacy
De Volkskrant compares the attempts at defusing tensions with Reagan and Gorbachev's disarmament initiative in the 1980s and voices doubts:
“An unorthodox approach can be successful, as Ronald Reagan proved in the negotiations with Gorbachev. At the time he even toyed briefly with the idea of complete nuclear disarmament. But that approach was based back then on a carefully thought out strategy (among other things the controversial Nato double-track decision). This time the basis for Trump's actions appears to be nothing but his impulsiveness and his boundless faith in his own skills.”